In May of last year, I received my bachelor’s degree in public health and minority health, only two months into the COVID-19 quarantine. When my school told me that our commencement ceremony would be completely virtual, I was devastated. I had worked so hard for four long years to get this degree and was looking forward to walking across the stage.
In January, I was diagnosed with COVID-19. I was fortunate to not have any severe symptoms, but it was an eye-opening experience that I’ll never forget.
Despite the hardships the pandemic brought about, I am thankful it led me to discover one thing: freelancing.
Early last summer, I began researching different side hustles that make a high income. One website stood out to me. Upwork is a platform used by many freelancers to get projects and jobs in writing, editing/proofreading, tutoring, customer service, social media, and much more. My initial interest was writing, as a few of my high school and college teachers had complimented me on my editorial style.
I signed up for Upwork instantly and created a profile using some of my college papers. Success on the platform didn’t happen immediately, but I was elated to begin working as a writer once I received an offer. My first project was the simple task of creating a 500-word essay about a health insurance company. My first client was satisfied with my work, and I went on to work with him for several months afterward. This project was my initial introduction to the freelancing world.
Freelance work is diverse, and people come from different backgrounds of education, work, and expertise that can be applied to many other jobs and projects on platforms like Upwork and beyond. As someone with background experience in public health, I have been offered several opportunities based solely on my educational background, which I am very grateful for.
While I still want to pursue a career in public health by becoming a certified health education specialist, I like that I now have a side hustle that I can make money from while I’m in graduate school. The pandemic was such an unexpected event for everyone, and it has shown how vital it is to have more than one income.
Many students may feel that they don’t have enough experience to become freelancers, which is an entirely false ideal. When I applied for my first project, I had no online publications to show my client. All I had were essays, but that was enough to get me in the door.
Alongside writing, I have been working for the last couple of months as a social media manager. I had managed a few social media pages during college, but it was never a career I had even thought of pursuing. My client saw my background and gave me a chance to develop my social media skills.
Many of us have been told to just go to college, graduate, and get a good job, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Freelancing is steadily growing and has exploded since the pandemic hit. Take this time to learn other skills that can land you a side hustle (or multiple side hustles), as well as additional items you can add to your resume.
Taneia Surles is a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in public health. She is also a freelance writer and social media manager interested in health and wellness, lifestyle, and entrepreneurship. When she is not studying or freelancing, she enjoys watching documentaries and journaling.